Dunkin’ Donuts apologizes for ‘bizarre and racist’ Thai ad for charcoal doughnut featuring teen girl in ‘blackface’
Dunkin’ Brands chief communications officer Karen Raskopf told the Daily News in a statement that the company is sorry for “any offense it caused” and will be pulling the campaign.
By Beth Stebner / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Looks like this feud was more than skin deep.
Dunkin’ Donuts — who came under fire for a “bizarre and racist” ad featured in Thailand — has issued an apology for the campaign for their new charcoal donut line.
In a statement to the Daily News, Karen Raskopf, the chief communications officer for Dunkin’ Brands, said the campaign for the dark chocolate donuts was “insensitive.”
“On behalf of our Thailand franchise and our company, we apologize for any offense it caused,” the statement continued.
“We are working with our franchaisee (sic) to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign.”
The campaign, featuring a stylized Thai woman with a complicated plait of black hair and blackface makeup, shows her holding a black donut with a bite out of it.
“Break every rule of deliciousness,” the slogan reads.
The Thai ad drew ire from thousands, including leading human rights watch groups, who said the campaign was deeply insensitive and indicative of vaudeville shows from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The U.S. branch of the donut chain had said they were working with the Thai branch of Dunkin’ Donuts to pull the entire campaign.
Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson told the Associated Press: “It’s both bizarre and racist that Dunkin’ Donuts thinks that it must color a woman’s skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut.”
Roberts had also demanded that the company offer an apology and immediately yank the print and TV campaign.
But some failed to see the controversy.
“We’re not allowed to use black paint to promote our donuts?” the company’s CEO for Thailand, Nadim Salhani, told the Bangkok Post.
“What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist? Not everyone is paranoid about racism,” Salhani, a Lebanese expatriate, said.
Her teenage daughter was the young woman featured in the campaign.
“I’m sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it is working very well for us.”